Making a Difference on Indian Reservations: Backpack Food Programs

Backpack Food Programs

backpacksAs we approach the school year, children living on reservations face rumbling bellies that can interfere with their education.Children attending the Takini School on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation face 30 mile bus rides to and from school and 3-day weekends (the Takini School has a four-day school week) without enough provisions to last each meal, much less any snacks.These rural communities stretching on the miles of reservation in Ziebach County, Wyoming sadly boasts the highest child poverty rate in the United States.

Without your support and the backpack food program supported by Christian Relief Services, these impoverished children would face no reprieve on the weekends or long bus rides from their hunger pangs.School is such a gift – and truly a necessity in the world today – but how can children study if they are distracted by their empty tummies?To keep these children fed and healthy, it only takes a small gift – or a commitment to supporting a child through our Running Strong for American Indian Youth® program all year round by becoming a monthly giver online through our secure server.

Stories like Nadine’s (told below) are not unique – they are the tragic stories of communities embedded in cycles of harsh poverty with no accessible stores or resources to help them.Except for Christian Relief Service’s backpack food program.

My name is Nadine.I’m the parent of six children who are enrolled at Takini School from kindergarten to the sophomore class.Since its inception, the backpack program has really helped a lot of us parents in providing snacks for our kids.A lot of us are low income, considered poverty-level.For me as a parent trying to make my food dollars stretch, it’s pretty tough.The kids really do watch their backpacks and keep an eye on each other’s stuff.Mostly it’s nutritious for them too and they can heat up things in the microwave.It’s really helped me as a parent because I’ve had hard times living out here in a rural area.Our nearest store is 27-30 miles away, just to go there for a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly is really a trip—almost40 dollars in gas.For these kids to take this stuff home on weekends really helps.I know a lot of the kids depend on the program and they look forward to it.It’s something that they cherish because some of them drive from here to Eagle Butte to get home.On that bus ride home I know they are hungry and tired.This backpack helps us make due for our kids.It has really helped the families a lot.We really are grateful.I know a lot of parents are.It’s a gift for us because we have it hard you know, so thank you very much. – Takini School Mother